My last post was about the Mad Men cupcakes I made for the beautiful Mrs C’s birthday party. For the basic sponge and buttercream recipes that all the cocktail cakes were based on, see the original post. With that out of the way, I promised I’d give some more detail on the individual cakes; let’s start with the Brandy Alexanders.
The original Brandy Alexander cocktail is brandy, creme de cacao (chocolate liqueur) and cream, mixed together and topped with freshly grated nutmeg. Quite a simple cocktail, not dissimilar to a White Russian but a little less widely known. As with all the cupcakes, I had to decide which flavours would be best in the sponge and which in the icing. In this case I kept the sponge very simple, just adding 3 tablespoons of brandy to the mixture and stirring until absorbed, before using it to fill eight shiny silver cases. This may seem quite a lot of brandy, but it was important to me that the taste of the alcohol would stay in the sponge even after baking. Also I’m a raging lush.
The icing was a more complex matter, as I wanted to make two different kinds of icing and combine them in a cool, two-tone swirl like I’ve seen other people do on TV. To achieve this, I took one third of this batch of icing and mixed in a teaspoon of grated nutmeg and two teaspoons of cocoa powder. To the rest, I added a splash of soy cream and another teaspoon of nutmeg, plus some more sugar to firm the texture up. The yellow colour of the margarine had given the icing a distinct golden hue, and I was pleased to see that the cream and extra sugar had made the icing much paler in colour, which was much more Brandy Alexander-ish.
Having made my two colours of icing, I chose my widest piping bag to give me more room to work, then started by making a thin line of the chocolate-nutmeg icing up one side of the bag. I didn’t try to push it right to the tip, but started the line as far into the bag as I could comfortably reach with the spatula. When this line was done, I filled the rest of the bag with the cream-nutmeg icing, trying to make the lines touch in the middle but not overlap or mix. When the bag was full I squeezed it gently to push the two batches of icing together, then began to push all the icing into the nozzle, making sure to apply even pressure to both sides. I was so focussed on the task at hand that I didn’t take any photos – next time I’ll take a step-by-step. Once the icing had filled the nozzle, I took a deep breath and piped it on to the cakes – it turned out perfectly! It was a little more effort than just piping one colour of icing, but as far as I’m concerned it was more than worth it, and I’ll definitely be doing this again for future cakes.
I sprinkled some more freshly grated nutmeg over the top of the cakes, and resisted adding glitter. “Glittery” and “classy” aren’t always words that you associate with one another, and I really wanted these cakes to have a certain Don Draper class and coolness about them. I also didn’t want to go too girly, and “glittery” and “girly” definitely *are* two words commonly used in close context.
Besides, I’d already used shiny cases for them.